Local Lawyer May Have Saved 2 Kids Awaiting Transplants - My9 New Jersey

Local Lawyer May Have Saved 2 Kids Awaiting Transplants

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PHILADELPHIA -

A Delaware County girl is hoping she's one day closer to receiving a new lung.

And thanks to the overwhelming push to help 10-year-old Sarah Murnaghan, a little boy and his family also have new hope.

But time is ticking away on the temporary restraining order that allows these children a chance at adult organs. And there is still a lot of fighting left to be done.

It all depends on what happens Monday night. That's when the transplant network meets on a conference call, to decide whether to continue it's age restriction policy.

It's a safe bet a federal judge's rulings this week will come into play.

In a new video, Sarah Murnaghan appears exhausted. The 10-year-old is laboring with each breathe she takes. And she's asking for support.

"Fight for me," Sarah says to her mother.

"Fight for you?" her mother asks, then tells her daughter, "A lot of people fought for you."

Perhaps chief among them was lawyer Steve Harvey.

"I became interested in the case, and it tugged at my heart when I saw it involved a 10-year-old," Harvey explained. "I have a 10-year-old son."

Harvey and his colleagues at the law firm Pepper Hamilton went before a federal judge earlier this week to argue that children like Sarah, who need lung transplants, have a right to get on a waiting list for adult organs.

Right now, the rules say only children 12 or older can get on that list.

The judge ordered that Sarah and another child, 11-year-old Javier Acosta, be put on the adult waiting list.

Two years ago, Javier's brother died from the same disease, cystic fibrosis, while waiting on a pediatric transplant list. He was one month shy of his 12th birthday.

"This policy needs to be revised," Harvey insisted. "It violates the law."

That's what Sarah's mom, Janet Murnaghan, has been saying for weeks.

"I'm not one mom out here saying my child deserves favoritism," Murnaghan explained. "I'm out here saying all children deserve to be equally treated under the law."

Harvey had an economist look at the government's own numbers, which he says proves that children like Sarah and Javier aren't being treated equally.

"In 2011, the last year for which we have data, the death rate for children was 62 percent," Harvey said. "The death rate for adults was 26 percent. Does that sound equitable?"

Janet Murnaghan says she can't thank Pepper Hamilton enough.

"We have hope. Before the judge's ruling Sarah was probably one-hundredth in line." But now, "With the ruling, we're either one or two in line for her blood type," Murnaghan explained.

Sarah and Javier have different blood types, so they will not be competing for the same lung.

As for that meeting Monday night, if the transplant board agrees to suspend its age policy immediately, then both children will remain on the waiting list for an adult organ.

If not, then this battle moves back to federal court late next week.

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